Thursday, May 24, 2007

Smoky Haze

When I woke up this morning, it looked overcast. I couldn't tell if it was humidity or heat, but I didn't want to be out in the middle of it. Needless to say, by a little after noon, I had to be.

The first thing I noticed when I left the house was the smell: something was burning, but I couldn't tell what. It smelled like paper burning or maybe garbage. I was afraid because I live in an apartment complex, but I knew that there would at least be smoke alarms going off, if not any firetrucks in the parking lot. I looked and looked, but it was obvious from the kids running around and people coming and going that nothing was going on around here, so I left.

The haze was everywhere. I had to drive about 3-4 miles down the road to the store and the haze was all across the roads. When I got to the store, it was as far up and down the highway as I could see. Making my purchase, I looked down at the newsstand and noticed on the front page of the local paper where an old gymnasium had burned to the ground. I didn't look at the story too hard, but I immediately asked, "Is that where all this smoke came from?"

The woman's eyes lit up and she said, "No! They said on the Nashville station, on the radio, that it was being blown up this way from the fires in Georgia!"

I was a little stunned. Georgia is at least 2-3 hours from here at the very closest and I had no idea the fires were in that area! The reports I'd heard had said they were between Florida and Georgia, which I naturally assumed meant they were on the far side of the latter state, and that's quite a ways from here!

I guess I just didn't realize how great the fires were nor how far smoke could travel. It really wakes you up to the whole global warming issue and puts a lot of other things into perspective, as well.

Everyone's so concerned with how technology and the Web have "made the world a smaller place," but something like this reminds you that the world isn't an infinite landscape. Of course, intellectually, we all know this, but emotionally, I think it's very easy to forget just how small the world really is. When you look at a map and see all the distant lands, all the countries you've never even heard of, all the places you'll never visit, everything seems so far away.

By late afternoon, the haze had cleared away and it no longer smelled of smoke, but the whole thing really set my little gerbil wheel in motion.

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